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Why such a Mystery? August 14, 2013

Posted by stacey in Genre Book Discussion, Mystery.
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One of the favorite genres here at Rocky River Public Library is the mystery genre! Is that because we like to sleuth out the final solution before the big reveal? Is that we enjoy encountering a high, fictional body count? Or is it just a category with so many clever books to choose from, it’s hard not to find a winner? Maybe it’s a mix of all these things? The end result is an entertaining list of books that feature a crime that is solved by professional or amateur detective in a timely fashion:

Emma: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear is the first entry in the Maisie Dobbs series. After the death of her mother, 13-year-old Maisie begins working as a maid for Lady Rowen in order to help pay bills. After being caught reading in the home’s library, Maisie fears she will be fired but is surprised and honored when Lady Rowen connects her with Dr. Maurice Blanche who becomes her tutor and mentor. After a year studying at Cambridge, Maisie becomes a wartime nurse in France and falls in love military surgeon Simon Lynch. It’s then 1929 and Maisie is starting her own private detective business. Her first case involves a husband fearing his wife is unfaithful. Maisie follows her and finds out she visits the grave of Vincent Weathershaw. His tombstone is engraved only with his first name like several other tombstones in the cemetery. These men, survivors of WWI and many severely disfigured, spent time at “The Retreat”, a place where soldiers still traumatized by the war go to recover. Something is wrong at “The Retreat” and Maisie sends employee Billy Beale in to “The Retreat” as a resident to see what is going on. An entertaining debut for the Maisie Dobbs series.

Ann: Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry is a first novel filled with heart-stopping suspense and a touch of gothic intrigue. When Troy Chance jumps into the water from the ferry she’s riding, she is not 100% sure that she saw someone fall from the ferry boat traveling in the opposite direction. But in the cold waters of Lake Champlain she finds a little boy and drags him to safety. It’s when they finally reach the shoreline and sit together sopping wet, and the boy utters his first word, “Merci,” that the reader is hooked. Sara J. Henry is a great new voice in the mystery-suspense genre, and this book is the Winner of the 2012 Anthony Award for best first novel, 2012 Agatha Award for best first novel, and the 2012 Mary Higgins Clark Award. It was also nominated for the Barry Award and Macavity Award. I loved this book!

Julie: The Emperor’s Conspiracy is Michelle Diener’s third novel and first set during the Regency period of England’s history. The conspiracy of the title is uncovered by Charlotte Raven, a chimney sweep turned Society lady, and Lord Edward Durnham, working under secret orders from the government. Both are surprised by the solution to the mystery as well as their growing attraction to each other. Fun historical mystery!

Carol: Claire, in Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway by Sara Gran, usually is a tough-as-nails, no-nonsense, hard drinking and hard living character who considers herself the greatest detective in the world. Things are different when a friend is found murdered and Claire finds her mental state spiraling out of control. Can Claire solve the crime before she is beaten by her own past’s demons? This present-day mystery has an old crime story feel that will appeal to fans of noir fiction (like me). Readers beware: this character-driven is one dark read, filled with sex and drugs and rock and roll.

Dori: In The Shining Girls, by Lauren Beukes, drifter Harper Curtis finds a house that allows him to travel through time. Using the house, he stalks and murders ‘shining girls’, women with potential, throughout the next 60 years. When one victim survives the attack, however, his plans begin to come undone. Smart, strong survivor Kirby Mazrachi, determined to find and stop the killer, teams up with a newspaper reporter to track him down. Part mystery, part sci-fi, this novel mashes up genres to create a fast-read, albeit with thinly drawn characters and a bit of a gimmicky feel.

Megan: The Bone House by Brian Freeman is a thrilling mystery set in small town in Wisconsin. Mark Bradley is a high school teacher still reeling from a scandal involving a young female student. When another local teen is found dead on a beach the town is convinced of Mark’s guilt. His wife is determined to clear her husband’s name, especially once she learns about the dead girl’s troubled past. In a town where secrets are buried deep and locals are willing to kill to keep it that way, the Bradley’s only hope is Detective Cab Bolton. This standalone thriller will keep readers guessing until the very end!

Maureen: Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda is the story of Val and June, 15-year-old friends growing up in the somewhat gritty dockside Red Hook section of Brooklyn. They are bored one night and decide to take an inflatable raft down to the water and float along the shore, but the next morning only Val is found, floating under a dock and near death. The story follows the toll this development has on the Red Hook neighborhood and its inhabitants, from Jonanthan, the man who discovers Val, to Cree, the wayward young man who hangs out along the dock and becomes a suspect in June’s disappearance. The writing is fabulous, the story twisted, and the descriptions colorful. A mystery worth visiting.

Stacey: A Place of Confinement: the investigations of Miss Dido Kent by Anna Dean might be the fourth book in this series, but each story is a gem in it’s own right. This current novel features our favorite heroine investigating the whereabouts of a missing houseguest *and* attempting to clear the name of Mr. Tom Lomax in hopes of preserving his family’s good name. If you’re looking to find a well-researched, charming historical mystery? You’ve found it right here!

For our next genre? We’re going to share first books by new authors, otherwise known as Debut Novels! If you want to play along, you’ll want to search out a book that has recently published by a newly discovered author. Don’t forget- we’re here to help if you get stuck trying to find just the right book or author!

— Stacey

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